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Azad launches “Democratic Azad Party”, but hostage to dilemma on Article 370

26/09/2022 at 1:51 PM

Democratic Azad Party

Arun Joshi

Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday launched his new party, “Democratic Azad Party” in Jammu and Kashmir with a clear eye on the Assembly elections which this place has been waiting for more than four years. He also launched his party’s flag- tricolor- Mustard, White and Dark Blue, signifying creativity plus diversity, peace and vastness of freedom and expression respectively.

He has placed his party in between the extreme stand of BJP, no reversal on Article 370 and Kashmir centric which claim that they are engaged in a struggle to get the special status under this constitutional provision back sooner or later. He tried to navigate the two extremes by adopting a middle path, in which the central theme was restoring unity of thought and action among the people of J&K, who are now more divided than ever before.

Apart from other issues, which he has already listed before the people, restoration of statehood, land and jobs for the natives, Azad made a strong pitch for bridging the gaps between deeply polarized communities and regions of Jammu and the Valley of Kashmir. “My sole motto is to bring down all barriers between the two regions, as Jammu is dependent on Kashmir and vice-versa. Their economies and human relations are interlinked,” he told a crowded press conference in Jammu. But he continued to insist that it was the party with “independent policy, ideology and not influenced by any leader or any other party,”, as he sought to dispel the impression that his party is coming into being under the influence of BJP that wants to create fragmentation in the political space.

The new party has thrown its hat in the crowded political ring in the Union Territory of J&K at a time when it also is battling the narratives of 70 versus three years, denoting the time space split into two phases – what happened during the rule of other political parties prior to the abrogation of Article 370 and three years thereafter.

Azad made announcement of his party in Jammu – the place and the timing are very critical.  Jammu, in the current context and has always been the case ever since the independence, is a home that absorbed discrimination in all fields by the Kashmir-centric political groups, in which Congress was no exception. By launching the party from this place he has sought to convey that he would stand for the region where his main political constituency is located. He hails from Bhalesa area of Chenab Valley, a hilly feature of Jammu rich for its water resources and forest rich mountains, but his deep explanation that he is equally concerned about the issues of Kashmir is an outreach. He is catering, as was expected, to his political constituency in Jammu region, wherefrom his erstwhile party Congress used to win a majority of seats.

The current political discourse is not all about the performance of the parties before the abrogation of the Article 370 on August 5, 2019, and now a little over three years since the abrogation, it is also a manifestation of the narratives that whether J&K was a sound proposition then or it is now. This needs a little explanation – the whole thing is being viewed within time space split into two frames, denoting that it was all black in 70 years and it is all bright in the three years. This is BJP’s view. But the regional parties in Kashmir, National Conference and PDP view it through reverse lens.

Azad’s dilemma, as it stems from his party’s agenda and themes articulated by him, is that he had ruled the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir at the time when the Article 370 was part of the constitution, and now as an individual and the driving force behind the new party, he is unable to talk about restoration of the constitutional provision the way he had defended it in the Parliament three years ago. That is going to be his   Achilles’ heel for him despite his high pitch for the statehood, land and jobs for the natives of Jammu and Kashmir, his lack of clarity on Article 370 is going to be a dilemma for him and his newly launched party.

Azad has already expressed his helplessness in getting the Article 370 restored, for he says the parameters needed for doing so were not available with him or any other party- a two-third majority in the Parliament, convincing Prime Minister Modi to reverse the August 5 decisions, or to be certain that the Supreme Court will deliver a decision in favour of this particular constitutional provision. The Kashmir-centric parties see in it his attempt to deviate from the issue.  That way he has defined his limits.

About the Author:

Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.


This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with those of prameyanews.com

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